Conscientious Living: Exercising without the Gym is not Difficult

Conscientious Living: Exercising without the Gym is not Difficult

This good advice is constantly thrown at us: make sure you exercise. At least half an hour a day. Exercising is good for our health, our brain, and our overall well-being.

If we only link exercising to ‘the gym’, this message can overwhelm us. Because do we want to be at the gym every day? Or do we even have a gym in our surroundings?

But it’s not that hard. Exercising without the gym is a piece of cake. Really. Even if you are housebound, like during a lockdown because of the virus.

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Exercising without the gym

You don’t have to exhaust yourself to the point of collapse. Just make sure to make a move that you are already doing with a little more force or effort. Until the moment when talking becomes difficult because of the panting.

A true example

Exercising while at work

Some years ago I met a man who unfortunately had lost his wife just two years before.

“The doctor told me I needed to exercise. One of the best ways to overcome my depression. He also told me that I had to mingle with people.

But with my little pension, I could neither afford the gym nor pay for the community activities.

Through the 65+-employment agency, I got a part-time job at the blue and yellow furniture giant. I am moving boxes and stuff around in the warehouse. It is my paid work-out and I also have some great colleagues to get a coffee with.”

The man looked at me vividly as he told me this story. Especially the phrase “It’s my paid work-out” caught my attention. It suddenly dawned on me; we do not always have to go to the gym to get a proper workout.

Before 29 your body takes care of you. After 29 you need to take care of your body.

“I don’t have the time”

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Whenever I tell people that I hike at least half an hour a day the response often is they really do not have the time for that themselves.

That got me thinking. After all, I do have at least half an hour for that each day. How about the people that really don’t?

Nowadays I have an app called StandUp on my phone because I want to sit for less than 10 hours a day. Even if I don’t hike outside, I make 5.000 steps, just by walking around in the house. As my mother used to say: Where there’s a will there is a way.

The gym is great to visit, but if you have enough movement in different ways, you do not have to feel guilty if you occasionally skip it or don’t go there at all!

Another benefit of exercising without the gym is that no fossil fuel is used to travel to and from the gym. Additionally, there are no temptations at the canteen afterward.

Related: What are the Dangers of Sitting too Long and How to Prevent it?

This way you get a lot of unnoticed movement

Take the stairs

1. Take the stairs instead of the elevator

If there is just an escalator, then even walk on the escalator. The UK metro is great for that where most people who don’t want to walk stand still at one side. Leaving the other side for the people that do want to walk. Briljant!

2. Walk every day

Don’t park the car right in front of the supermarket, but further away so you have to walk a couple of meters extra.

Or get off the bus or the subway one stop too early if you use public transportation.

We are lucky enough to have a supermarket with underground parking. (FYI: most Spanish people won’t park in a garage for a reason I have not yet discovered.) There is an elevator, but also a long ramp at a slight angle. 

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3. Play along with your grandkids

Once a top athlete got assigned to do exactly the same as children did for a full day. He gave up before midday!

I can imagine you don’t want to go that far. Playing hide and seek or taking them to the playground will do as well.

4. Getting a phonecall? Stand up

Or if you do not irritate your spouse with it, walk around while you talk on the phone.

LOL, especially when I have a friend on the other end of the line, I make a lot of steps, because our conversations can last a looong time. 🙂

5. Stand if you work on the computer or tablet

Stand if you work on the computer

I have one shelf in my bookcase that is sticking out, so I can regularly read on my iPad or watch a YouTube video while I am standing.

6. Store every single item once you don’t need it anymore

Do not wait until a large collection is waiting on the stairs or the hall cupboard, but pick up each object separately. (Note: better yet, don’t leave anything on the staircase. Falling is one of the bigger risks when aging.)
With the added advantage that your house is always tidy!

7. Watch TV actively

Place an exercise bike right in front of your TV or make steps on the spot. And put the remote control farther away so you have to get up at times.

Chores are great exercises

8. Don’t hate housekeeping anymore

Mopping, vacuuming, ironing, making the beds, and all the other chores are the best sneaky-fitness that you can imagine. And yes, dear gents, that goes for you too.

9. High – Low

Put stuff just a little too high in the closet so you have to stretch when you need it. Or put them in the lower cupboards and try getting up from your squat without using your hands. Please be careful that your movement is safe, so do not twist your body while you also move up or downwards.

Adding a 10th tip?

There will certainly be other simple moves that we make unnoticed. The whole idea of focusing on simple daily movements is to encourage you to practice daily exercises that you can do into old age.

Both my parents spend the last years of their lives in a nursing home. Seeing the residents just sitting there all day long is my bugaboo for the future. By training myself now, I hope that if I unexpectedly end up in a nursing home, I will take care of my ongoing movement myself.

Can you think of an ordinary movement that can be added to this list? Tell us in the comment box.

Work from home sustainably

22 thoughts on “Conscientious Living: Exercising without the Gym is not Difficult”

  1. I feel this post about exercising without the gym is not only for seniors but for all ages. I’ve got a long time 😉 before I hit that age!
    But I try to in-cooperate movements throughout the day. I wake up early so I can do some pilates whilst watching the morning tv.
    I tend to drink lemon and honey water whilst walking/standing in the back garden and admiring the plants/trees.
    I also take my laptop in the kitchen if i need to keep an eye on cooking or something. I tend to place my laptop on worktop so I am standing up whilst working.
    I tend to get up and walk about every 30 minutes or 60 minutes if I’m really busy.
    I tend to do some stretches if watch TV in the evening. We try to go out for a walk every so often as well. I always advise my mum to keep being actively with the house chores etc and keep the body movement going earlier on so she remains well and active when she hits that age.

    During my childhood, I remember my grandma very clearly that she use to wake up at dawn and used to be always on the go, always doing something. She was always fit and healthy and died at over 100 years old.

    Thank you for inspiring me to keep active, keep going.

    • LOL, Habib, change the “I tend” to “I do” and you have the perfect lifestyle. All kidding aside; I wish I had done at your age what you do now! It’s a good thing we tend (!) to grow wiser whilst aging, so now I do. 🙂

  2. Hi, you’re RIGHT!
    There are plenty of “situations”, hidden around us, where you can find an exercise!
    Truly, you’re rigth, the only thing that everyone must do is follow your advice.

    Thank you so much!

  3. I was always the type that had to get up early in the morning and at age 14 I bought my own set of weights that took a long time to save up for. I was always the one looking to find someone else to go for that long walk or just to climb that cliff face.

    Well, today I have that person in my life that I married 30 yrs ago and yes we still do those things together. We haven’t got out to rock climb lately but we got out to sail and we do pilates, yoga and even work out in the garage with the few weights together. And that’s just a few things I share with you.

    Everything you said in your article, people should be doing NOW, not wait till they get old. I am 60 and everyone my age and even younger around me has trouble even walking to their car.

    I always said, “If you don’t use it, You will LOSE it!” And that includes your life.
    I don’t care what age you are: follow Hannie’s advise TODAY !

    • Thanks for the shout out, Rick! 🙂
      Your quote is a great one. We will definitely lose what we don’t use.
      Another one of my favorites is: Exercise if your life depends on it, because it does.
      You made the right choice in your youth. Starting that early gives you a huge head start.

  4. Hi Hannie,

    This is a very useful tip for people who don’t like to work out at gyms like my parents. I often encourage my parents to exercise at gyms, but they are just like what you mentioned here “We have no time!” & so they end up becoming couch potatoes.

    I will share this article with them and encourage them to do some adjustments to living habits, so they might become healthy in the long run.

    I also want to share my tip about walking, which is to purchase a smart wristband that shows how many steps you walk for that day. In the evening, you can check the screen so you will know whether you walk enough or not. The recommended steps for a day is around 8000, just for your reference! 🙂


    • Thank you so much, Matt, both for the sharing this article with your parents as for the useful tip about the steps counter. Do you know if that recommended 8000 is for all ages? I can imagine it is a higher number for a much younger person?

  5. I’m lucky I have a very good role model in my Mum. She is 87 and still driving her own car, living alone, and walking everyday. She has always said the same, ‘Use it or loose it!’ It’s so true because our bodies are very intelligent and grow and adapt according to the demands we place on them. So if we never demand anything strenuous from our bodies they will never develop to be able to do anything strenuous.
    However, if we work them regularly and push beyond what we are comfortable with, they will grow and develop in expectation of being able to do more in the future.
    All the best!

    • That is great, Andrew! I am so happy your Mum is active and giving you a good example. Good for her and good of her.And yes, if we never leave our comfort zone, be it in exercise or in life , business, anything else, we won’t get ourselves very far.

  6. Hi Hannie,

    Some awesome tips here, for both young and old.

    Admittedly, I am someone who has enjoyed exercise throughout my life (yes, I do actually ENJOY it), and therefore I am well aware of the benefits.

    I’m not just talking about the physical benefits either, as I can attest to the difference in my mental health when I exercise regularly.

    However, even being someone who goes to the gym 5 or 6 times a week, I will still to this day will say that the best form of exercise is walking.

    Even with my active lifestyle, I actually go for a walk around my local park and beyond, every single morning.

    This is not just for the “exercise”, but I find it a great way to clear the mind and relax.

    I love your idea of ensuring that “you’re getting your steps in every day” and I actually have a step counter that automatically displays on my phone, and I always find myself giving it a quick glance.


    • That is so great, Partha, I envy you for liking to exercise from a young age on! But the good news is, once I started to exercise regularly, I got addicted as well and love it nowadays. So we either can grow up with it or grow into it. 🙂
      Great addition about the extra benefits of walking: clearing the mind and relaxing. Especially if we are able to walk in a green environment like a park or nature, this is so beneficial for us. 🙂
      (For anyone who reads this comment: click on Partha’s name. His website has great articles about exercising)

  7. This article really would be helpful for so many people to read. In this day and age even younger people are somewhat sedentary. These tips to exercising without the gym can apply to younger and older people together! I am definitely going to be trying some of these ideas because like many others I find myself not as active especially as I work from home. This lack of movement has made me more sluggish, tired, and overall not energetic and I would love to feel better about myself. I will be doing more to be active now that I have read your article. I do not have time to go to the gym, but that doesn’t mean I can’t get in some good exercise!

    • Oh, Shyla, I am so glad I inspired you to move more.
      Working from home can be a real clog on moving enough. What helps me a lot – as I sit behind the computer a lot as well – is the app StandUp. I get a message every 35 minutes to stand up and then I walk for about 10 minutes in the house reading a book or an article. 🙂
      Take care.

  8. Excellent tips! I always say that although I don’t go to the gym, I still do a lot of exercise. At home I walk a lot. I am not sure if I can make it to 8000 steps, but there are a lot of steps in my daily walks. 😉 Since the property is large, the water hose does not reach to the farthest parts, and as a result I have to carry buckets of water over there to water trees and plants, twice a day ==> weightlifting 🙂
    I am always doing something, so I am usually active during the day.
    I do not like household chores, even if you throw in the word exercise, lol. Sitting on a stationary bike, though, while watching the news is something I would enjoy doing.

    • Hi Christine, by the looks of it, you indeed have plenty of exercise. If you are curious about your steps and if you have a smart phone, you could download a pedometer. There are automatic pedometers that will count every step as long as you have your phone in one of your pockets. You’ll be amazed!

  9. Hello,

    Really inspirational post here, and I’m sure it’s something that we’ve all started to realise in the past year, especially with the likes of gyms/pools closing . It has made me appreciate that exercising is most definitely possible without a gym. Whether it’s going out for a walk like you said, taking the lift or even body weight exercises!

    Thanks for sharing this.

  10. Hi Hannie,

    Great post and totally support the importance of keeping active especially when you hit an older age.

    I studied sports and science, where I found a subject of importance and it was how our bodies change as we age and the importance of keeping mobile. I won’t go into it but I took everything I learnt and taught my grandparents and gave them a few exercises to do everyday.

    My Grandad is a very active man anyway walking the dog is so important to getting him out every morning and evening. I honestly believe if he didn’t have his dog he wouldn’t go for walks that often.

    Great post and I hope your post helps someone in some way!


    • Coincidentally one of my friends has adopted a dog this week for just that reason: to be forced to walk at least twice a day. 🙂
      It’s great of you to have taught your grandparents some exercises. Aging we not only have to keep moving to avoid stiffness and to work on our immune system, but it also postpones getting mental diseases.

  11. Hi Hannie!
    Thanks for reminding that been active is so important to stay healthy. We sometimes don’t notice these useful tips and spend more time and money by going to a gym. I personally like to walk in my room while I have to talk by phone as well. I try to set up the goal for myself to make 10.000 steps every day and I check it with my app, and if I don’t achieve that goal, I try to catch it up at home by doing extra movements like walking. And another tip I’m trying to follow is using my car only in cases when it is really impossible to walk.
    All the best,

    • Great, Alex, 10.000 steps is huge 🙂
      Yes, the gym subscription can be costly. Often people have good intentions and pay, only to find out later they hardly go. Such a pity.

  12. Thanks for the great article Hannie. I am 57 years young and have made room for exercise for many years. There was a time when I suffered from chronic pain (in my 30s) and I gained a lot of weight. But I was able to overcome that and since then I have made a great turnaround.

    Exercising is a big part of my routine. I have always made room at home and have never joined a gym. Joining a membership club for working out has always seemed like an inconvenience as well as expensive. However, I have been involved in a martial art school for many years… except during Covid.

    I have used resistance bands to work out at home. This is better than weight training. I also have a DVD course on Kundalini Yoga which you can learn at home. Youtube is also chocked full of yoga instruction.

    Recently I have been doing T Tapp. These exercises are great for blood sugar and getting your lymph moving through your body. I am all on board in devoting time every day for staying flexible and fit!

    • Good to hear, Brian. And yes, we can do a lot at home. Thank you so much for your additional tips. Although I have never heard of T Tapp. I’ll have to look up that one, it’s always so great to learn about new things, isn’t it. 🙂

      What kind of resistance bands do you have? There are different types. I have one that looks like the inner tube of a bicycle.
      DVDs and the internet are great sources to learn from.

      Keep up the good stuff. 🙂


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